Effect of low levels of dietary tyrosine on the hair colour of cats

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22 Scopus citations


Experiments were conducted to investigate the basis for the change in hair colour of black cats to reddish-brown. Black cats were given purified diets based on gelatin, casein plus lactalbumin, or crystalline amino acids as protein sources. Diets that caused the colour of hair to change to reddish-brown were associated with a reduction in melanin in hair (observed by direct microscopic examination), a decreased total melanin concentration and low concentrations of tyrosine in plasma. Reddish hair coat was induced in black kittens born to queens given a tyrosine-deficient diet during pregnancy. Black hair colour was maintained or restored by diets containing a high concentration of tyrosine or phenylalanine. Current dietary recommendations for dietary tyrosine and phenylalanine for cats are below those required to support maximal melanin synthesis in black cats. The requirement appears to be greater than a combination of 4-5 g tyrosine plus 12 g phenylalanine/kg diet but less than 24 g phenylalanine alone/kg diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Small Animal Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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